A WEEKEND TRIP TO ANTALYA, Meltem Bozkurt Kaya | 11.06.2015

We decided to go on a short weekend trip and chose Antalya, which is one of the most visited cities in the world. The time between making the decision and getting on our way was no more than the time it took to pack our bags. After getting our boarding cards, we made a reservation at a hotel we picked after only a few minutes of research. If you have stayed many times at the all-inclusive holiday villages at Kemer, Beldibi, Alanya, and Manavgat you get sick of them; our intention was to be a complete tourist in Antalya this time, with the intention of seeing the city as a tourist. Instead of being tied to one spot, throwing ourselves at the city in the hope of being surprised was really a lot more enjoyable.

When we arrived at Antalya on one of Turkish Airlines’ Airbus A340 planes, the sun was about to set. We took a bus heading to the city center at once and got off at a place close to Kaleiçi after approximately 40 minutes. You can reach the city by taxi or HAVAŞ bus from the airport as well.

As we walked from the bus stop towards our hotel, it was as though the Yivli Minare and the Clock Tower with their lighting were welcoming us. The city, with the noise in the streets, its warm weather, and its many restaurants and stores immediately immersed us. Kaleiçi, an area in which you truly feel the fabric of history, is even more beautiful after restorations made in recent years. We thought that we made very good decision in choosing a hotel in this district.

After going through Hadrian’s Gate to enter Kaleiçi and walking straight on you will see the Kesik Minare. Our hotel, the Castle Boutique Hotel, was on this road. The hotel, which was made up of 20 cute rooms around a huge garden had a fairy tale atmosphere; people eating at wooden tables under fruit trees with colored light bulbs hanging from them. With the sound of the water from the pool alongside the strains of Turkish classical music made the place very tranquil. We chose to dine at the Castle Restaurant, which also belonged to our hotel on the hillside. I can still remember the taste of the food we had for dinner.

After having our breakfast in the same garden in the morning we began our tour. We saw the Yivli Minare, which is a 38-meter-high minaret made by the Seljuks, in the morning as well. When I saw the Attalia statue, which is also the source of the name of the city, I simply had to take a picture with it. :) We went into a bazaar and talked with the store owners. They all thought that we were foreigners for some reason. Talking in English with some of them and trying to not let on to them the fact that we were Turkish was great fun for us.

Even though there is a trolley to the famous Konyaaltı Beach we chose to walk. This way we knew we wouldn’t miss anything. It became apparent that the month of May is the best time to be in Antalya. You will neither feel chilly nor sweat too much. As the weather was this good, going in for the first sea swim of the year wasn’t too daunting a prospect. Even though I hesitated at the first, once I let myself slide into the salty waters of the Mediterranean I saw that there wasn’t much to fear. Sunbathing for a few hours and listening to the sound of the sea at Konyaaltı brought me peace.

We had our dinner again in the garden of our hotel. We called over two friends who were by chance at Antalya on business. We had many different salads, appetizers, and of course grilled fish in our delicious feast. There were people in the garden who had just come to have dinner. When the “Deniz ve Mehtap” song started to play we couldn’t help ourselves from dancing some “syrtos.” When we finished dancing the applause told us that many people had been watching us. We mingled and chatted with people at other tables. It was a long but fun evening.

We earmarked the Sunday to see Düden and the Kurşunlu waterfalls. Before that, we had a nice walk towards Lara before our breakfast. It was both to have a workout and to see a little more of the area around us. The city had become so much more beautiful compared to when we had last seen it. Seeing Düden National Park and then Kurşunlu Falls after the breakfast was an experience that can’t be described by words alone; we really couldn’t get enough of the array of colors and lights. Unfortunately, I can’t be as enthusiastic about the restaurant next to the falls; its tasteless menu, small portion sizes, and service unbefitting a tourist location got a bad score from me.

Antalya is our country’s tourist capital and has countless attractions. Both its natural beauties and its historical and cultural richness prove why tourists first chose to visit it once they started coming to Turkey. Yanartaş (Olympos), Batıkkent Kekova, Aspendos, Side… Each is worth of its own article. You need to stay for at least a week to be able to truly enjoy all the beaches, waterfalls, museums, canyons, plateaus, and caves of the Antalya region. 

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